Secret Service held 12 Dallas activists, said `threatened the life of the President'
by Cliff Pearson, North Texas Independent Media Center, 4 November 2002
(DALLAS, November 4, 2002) George W. Bush, current resident of the White House, made his way to Dallas today for a last minute campaign pitch for Texas Republicans at Southern Methodist University's Moody Coliseum.
About 300 protesters opposing Mr. Bush's plans for regime change in Iraq braved the cold and rain and awaited Mr. Bush's arrival. Waving large anti-war banners, sporting signs and posters, and chanting slogans like No War in Iraq and Drop Bush Not Bombs from bull horns, the demonstrators gathered at the intersection of Mockingbird Lane and Central Expressway, near the SMU campus.
At approximately 5:30 p.m., 30 minutes before Mr. Bush's expected arrival, the protesters marched in line to Moody Coliseum, led by the purple-arm band-wearing peacekeepers demonstrators who agreed to monitor the crowd for illegal activity, and to make sure the crowd didn't do anything to incur problems with police.
Twelve demonstrators had tickets for the Bush speaking event, 11 adults and one juvenile girl. These protesters separated from the crowd that was marching, and went in to Moody Coliseum to Mr. Bush's campaign speech. They were allowed in without incident. This reporter was one of the 12.
The 12 protesters waited patiently for 6:00 p.m. to arrive, the time appointed for Mr. Bush to come out to speak. They listened quietly to speeches by David Dewhurst, candidate for Lt. Governor of Texas; Rick Perry, Governor of Texas; and John Cornyn, candidate for U.S. Senate.
Finally, John Cornyn announced George W. Bush and his wife, and Mr. Bush took the podium. After Mr. Bush spoke for about 10 minutes, the 12 protesters stood up and unfurled a banner they had smuggled in reading No War in Iraq, and started chanting the same message in unison.
The crowd went silent, and even Mr. Bush stopped talking. After several minutes of the 12 protesters chanting "No War in Iraq," the crowd started yelling over them, "USA, USA."
Three audience members (all White males, and presumably Republicans) jumped up and yanked the banner out of the activists hands. When this action did not faze the protesters, the men pushed and shoved the women protesters (none of the men), got in their faces and yelled obscenities at them screaming "Shut up."
One man, standing directly behind this reporter, politely said he was a lawyer and urged the heckling protesters to "Please sit down before you're arrested." The protesters ignored him.
Officers with the Dallas Police Tactical Division (SWAT Team), SMU Campus Police, and agents of the U.S. Secret Service converged on the 12 protesters and told them to leave. This reporter asked the Dallas Tactical police officer, "Are we being arrested or escorted out? If we're being escorted out, we'll leave peacefully and quietly without further incident." The officer said, "OK, that's good. Let's leave," and the 12 protesters were walked to the exit by three Dallas Police Tactical officers, two SMU Campus Police officers, and four Secret Service agents.
After the 12 hecklers were outside, they started to leave, when a Secret Service agent said to them, "Please don't leave yet, need to ask you some questions first. Come over here where we can talk out of the rain." This reporter politely asked, "Are we being arrested, sir?" The agent yelled, "We just want to get your names, but if you get an attitude, yes, we have a charge against you. So come over here out of the rain and let's talk."
The 12 protesters followed the agent, as directed, and one of them asked, "What do you plan to ask us?" The agent said, "We need to see your identification. If you have no outstanding warrants, you'll be free to leave, but if you do have warrants, you'll be arrested."
One of the hecklers protested this treatment and demanded to be allowed to leave. The agent said, no, that the protesters were not allowed to leave. The protester asked, "Why not?" and the agent said "We need to check your identification first." The woman said, "I don't have any identification, I never carry my purse to a protest." They agent told her that, in that case, he would have to arrest her. She said, "For what? Exercising free speech?" The agent responded, "Ma'am, you've threatened the life of the President of the United States. You will not be allowed to leave without identifying yourselves." The woman refused.
The agent walked off and left the 12 hecklers in the custody of a Dallas Tactical police officer. The protesters got on four separate cell phones and started calling their attorneys. At about that time, several reporters including TV news photographers arrived on the scene to ask questions of the protesters.
Immediately, the Dallas Tactical Police officer said, "You're all free to go. Go back to your cars and leave, and don't come back." The protesters complied willingly, and their identification ended up not being checked.
The hecklers were reported on all the Dallas local news channels that night.--
Candidate, Justice of the Peace
Dallas County Precinct 3, Place 2
Green Party of Dallas County
"Vote for the People . . . For a Change"
Copyright © 2002 North Texas Independent Media Center
Reprinted for Fair Use Only.